Tarantino unleashes his usual barrage of joyful exploitation
Some would say being a Quentin Tarantino fan is a matter of taste, or perhaps in some minds, it’s a matter of being swayed by his utter tastelessness. Put me in Camp Tarantino every day and twice on Sunday.
A follow-up to Inglourious Basterds, another film that flips an Italian genre film on its head in hyper-Tarantino fashion, Django Unchained pays homage to the title character of the spaghetti western Django, but then goes full bore Tarantino on his ass, changing the setting to America several years before the Civil War. The title character is a runaway slave (Jamie Foxx) who has information needed by German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Basterds’ Oscar winner Christoph Waltz). This is the reason Schultz offers Django an unheard of proposition: If Django will help him with his bounty hunting for the winter, Schultz will help Django find his wife Bromhilda (Kerry Washington).
The trail to the plantation Candyland, where Bromhilda now resides, is littered with corpses. The bloodletting is eventually so extreme it slides into the realm of cartoon violence, as one laughs at the ridiculous level of blood splatter while feeling its cumulative effect.
But there is a point to this display. The violence shown against the slaves is brutal without the cartoon element. When we see a slave whipped, or set upon by wild dogs, or see two black men forced to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of a particularly vile plantation owner, we are reminded that this troubling display is a core element of our true, shameful history. Tarantino whips his version of history into frenzied exploitation unfettered by any sense of decorum, but that doesn’t mean it lacks validity.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays the vile plantation owner, Calvin Candie. DiCaprio is obviously having a blast playing a monster barely hidden beneath the sickly sweet talk of a Southern gentleman, seemingly polite and thoughtful about his guests, Django and King Schultz — even as he orders dogs to tear the flesh from a runaway slave, or tells one slave to bash another slave over the head with a hammer.
Foxx plays Django as a man who has spent his life as a slave and has learned to keep his rage coiled within, except with a glint in his eye now that he has the power to legally pull the trigger. Waltz’s polite, but deadly, Schultz could be a cousin to his Col. Landa character from Basterds.
Yet the most odious villain in the film is Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, the slave who runs the house for his owner Candie. Stephen long ago decided to do whatever it took to remain in the good graces of his master, including turning against his race. Like Candie, he has no sense of morality and Jackson conveys that mindset with precision.
As with most Tarantino films you will enjoy both his musical score and his tendency to have fun with cameo roles. The music ranges from classic spaghetti western themes to my favorite piece, the gorgeous Jerry Goldsmith-penned theme from the film Under Fire. As for the cameos, you get extra points if you spot Bruce Dern, Tom Wopat, Don Stroud, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Robert Carradine, Michael Parks and Tarantino’s favorite stuntwoman, Zoe Bell.
The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in game-changing performances as two broken people with mental issues who find each other, and while that might sound like a drama, it is so funny it resists being so easily labeled.
Latest ‘Hobbit’ adventure is a bit on the cute side .
Well 12-12-12 passed and we are still here. Of course some doomsday experts insist that those kooky Mayans predicted the end for Dec. 21, 2012, so we have a few more days anxious days ahead. Therefore, in celebration of the end, here is a list of enjoyable end-of-the-world movies.
I had no reason to go to the movies last weekend. Instead, here’s a list of my 10 favorite movies to watch during the holidays in alphabetical order.
While there are the usual stone-cold lock Oscar nominees this year, the Academy is jumping the gun with its early announcement of nominations. This was done because the Academy members were sick and tired of all the other awards like the Golden Globes watering down the Oscar excitement by announcing its winners before the Oscar nominations were even released.
While in general the Academy Award nominations went as expected, the two exceptions were jaw dropping: No best director nomination for Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and no best actor nod for John Hawkes (The Sessions). Both of these omissions really have me steamed.
Now that the Academy Awards were announced yesterday (Jan. 10), moviegoers locally will finally get a chance to see two of the nominated films, the hunt for bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty and the hunt for survivors after the horrifying 2004 tsunami in The Impossible.
Good news movie fans, the movie dead zone is almost over. If you’ve been wondering why there are no decent movies out there lately — except for the Oscar winners you might have missed earlier — the reason is simple economics.